When you need a building permit

All building works need a building permit unless they are exempt. A small number of building works are exempt from a building permit (see below). For a full list of exemptions, see Schedule 8 of the Building Regulations 2006.

The best way to find out if you need a building permit is to Contact Council. This is a free service.

If your project requires a planning permit, then you must have the planning permit before you can apply for a building permit. When you need a planning permit has information about what types of building and land use projects require a planning permit.

Why you need a building permit

A building permit ensures that your building project:

  • is built by registered and insured builders
  • has the correct documentation
  • is inspected at different stages of work, and
  • is independently assessed as finished and/or suitable for occupation. 

A building permit also lists the types of inspections your project must have at different stages of work. For example, your building project may need to be inspected for footing, steel reinforcement, frame and require a final inspection.

There may also be other permits and approvals for building.

Large fines apply if you build without the correct permits and you may be forced to demolish illegal buildings.

Examples of building projects that require a building permit

You may need a building permit for:

  • a new home or factory
  • a swimming pool
  • extensions
  • renovations
  • demolition, and
  • building removal.

You may also need a building permit for smaller projects like:

  • new fencing
  • re-stumping
  • retaining wall
  • boundary wall
  • spa
  • safety barrier for a swimming pool or spa
  • garage
  • carport
  • outbuilding 
  • verandah, and
  • pergola.

Building permit exemptions

All building projects need a building permit except for the list of projects below. If your project is not in this list, contact Contact Council to see if you need a building permit. This is a free service.

You do not need a building permit for:

A freestanding shed

A freestanding shed is:

  • with a floor area not more than 10 square metres, and 
  • not more than 3 metres in height or, if located within 1 metre of a boundary is not more than 2.4 metres in height, and 
  • located no further forward on the allotment than the front wall of the main building on the property, and 
  • not constructed of masonry (such as stone, concrete or brick). 

Repair, renewal or maintenance of an existing building

Repair, renewal or maintenance of an existing building, if the building work:

  • is not structural works or underpinning or replacement of footings, or 
  • does not affect the safety of the public, or 
  • is not an essential safety measure, or 
  • does not increase or decrease the floor area or height of the building, or 
  • is not being carried out on, or in connection with, a building included on the Heritage register established under the Heritage Act 1995, or 
  • is not removal or alteration of any element of the building that is contributing to the support of any other element of the building, or
  • uses materials commonly used for the same purpose as the material being replaced.

Swimming pools including spas

  • A swimming pool with a depth not exceeding 300 millimetres, or
  • A relocatable swimming pool that is erected temporarily in an area that is enclosed by barriers complying with AS 1926.1 - 1993 Swimming Pool Safety Part 1: Fencing for swimming pools. Note, the safety barriers around the pool need a permit. 

Fences

A fence, screen or structure similar to a fence (other than a fence forming part of a safety barrier for a swimming pool or a fence forming part of a children's service outdoor play space):

  • not exceeding 2 metres in height, or 
  • not exceeding 1.5 metres in height when within 3 metres of a street (which is not a lane, footway, alley or right of way) alignment and which is not constructed of masonry, concrete or the like, or 
  • not exceeding 1.2 metres in height when within 3 metres of a street (which is not a lane, footway, alley or right of way) alignment and which is constructed of masonry, concrete or the like, or 
  • not exceeding 1 metre in height above the footpath when within 9 metres of a point of intersection of street alignments, or
  • not having barbed wire or the like when adjacent to a street alignment.

Signs

Any sign:

  • less than 3 metres from a street alignment that is not more than 1 metre in height above ground level, or
  • more than 3 metres from a street alignment that is not more than 8 metres in height above ground level, and
  • not more than 6 square metres in display area.

Mast, pole, antenna or aerial

A mast, pole, antenna or aerial:

  • when attached to a building, is not higher than 3 metres above the highest point of the building to which it is attached, or
  • if freestanding, is not more than 8 metres above ground level.

Retaining wall

A retaining wall less than 1 metre in height that is not associated with other building work or with protection of adjoining properties.

Pergola to a domestic residence

Note that a pergola is an unroofed structure. A verandah is not a pergola.

A pergola to a domestic residence:

  • less than 20 square metres in floor area, and 
  • not more than 3.6 metres in height, and
  • is located no further forward on the allotment than 2.5 metres forward of the front wall of the house, and 
  • has no roof covering.

The Victorian Building Authority has more information about building permits.